The Ashland City Council has approved a $1.60 monthly fee on garbage customers to keep the Recycle Center on Water Street open for now.
The Recycle Center costs approximately $155,000 to run each year while bringing in about $20,000 annually from the sale of recyclables.
It was created in the late 1990s, before the 2007 launch of curbside recycling services that allow people to set recyclables out for home pick-up in Ashland.
Approved this week, the $1.60 monthly fee on all Recology Ashland Sanitary Service customers goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2014.
Meanwhile, regular garbage bills will be reduced by $1.60 per month.
The council is no longer allowing the subsidization of the Recycle Center to be covered via regular garbage bills. It created a separate, add-on fee to keep the Recycle Center operating.
However, garbage bills will not remain flat beginning in 2014.
The council also approved a 3 percent increase on regular garbage bills to help Recology buy standardized garbage carts that the company will provide to Ashland customers. The carts can be picked up by automated garbage trucks.
A 2012 study of garbage company practices found an inefficient mix of manual and mechanical pick-up of garbage and recycling.
The study recommended that Recology further automate its system and consider closing the Recycle Center, which collects a fraction of recyclables in town. The Recycle Center is widely used by residents from throughout the Rogue Valley and northern California, although Ashland garbage customers pay for its operation.
Councilors decided to set up a committee that will study the Recycle Center issue over the next several months.The committee will report back to the council and deliver a recommendation about the Recycle Center's future by June 1, 2014.
— Vickie Aldous